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How to Organize an International Move

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Organization is key for any move, but it is even more important when moving overseas. An international move has a lot of moving parts and requires a great deal of paperwork and preparation. Keeping everything organized will ensure that both your family and your things get to your foreign destination quickly and smoothly.

Plan ahead

An international move can get disorganized quickly if you do not fully prepare in time. Moving to another country takes a lot of paperwork that takes time to process and verify. When you choose a foreign destination, you should do several things as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport that will remain valid at the time of the move
  • Research visa options for the country you are moving to
  • Apply for the visa that you chose
  • Contact international movers three months before the move
  • Review the country's customs regulations to make sure you can bring what you want to bring with you
  • Ask everyone any questions that you have about anything right away

Pack wisely

Organizing your packing is the next step in keeping your move organized. Remember that you want to keep your shipment as small as possible for an international move due to pricing and convenience. If you need to put some things in storage before you move overseas, do so well before the move. 

  • Pack in a way that makes sense to you. Either pack by room or put all similar things together
  • Label all boxes clearly and remember to mark fragile items appropriately
  • Pack correctly and make sure all boxes fit snugly around their contents
  • Don't pack things you will need right away in your shipment since international shipments can take several weeks to reach your destination
  • Pack everything you will need right away in your luggage and carry-on bags
  • Make separate written inventories of all of your items in both luggage and the shipment

Keep a binder/folder of all the important documents with you

There is a lot of paperwork you'll need to access during the move and the trip overseas. You should keep it all in one folder or binder that you can carry with you at all times. If there are multiple sections in your organizer/folder, you can make one section for moving documents, one for identification, one for receipts, one for insurance, etc.

Here is a list of some things you should keep in your document folder:
  • Identification, like driver's licenses and birth certificates
  • Power of attorney
  • Inventory of shipment
  • Inventory of personal effects
  • The Bill of Lading
  • Insurance documentation
  • Medical records
  • School records
  • Receipts for items
  • Wills
  • Custody papers
  • Pet immunization records
  • Anything needed to verify items in customs

When you arrive

A new country can differ significantly from what you're accustomed to at home. If you are organized, your focus can be on your new surroundings instead of keeping track of your own things.
  • The moving company you are dealing with may be affiliated with the domestic movers you hired, but may not operate in accordance with any laws that apply in Canada. Pay attention to them.
  • Check your shipment with your written inventory as soon as possible.
  • Address any damaged or lost items immediately.
  • Unpack in an organized way, starting with the things you will need to soonest
  • Don't leave partially unpacked boxes lying around for months
  • Set up your things using a plan to avoid wasting time rearranging things
If you prepare, you can keep yourself organized during an international move. With all your paperwork and packing squared away, you can better adjust to the myriad of other challenges that moving to a new culture and country will throw at you.

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on December 11, 2014 - Moving Expert
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